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Ancient migration routes may have to be reexamined after, evidence that Australia may have been discovered by an extinct human species called the Denisovans.Professor Richard 'Bert' Roberts at the University of Wollongong, has been studying their only known home Aboriginal people in Australia contain both Neanderthal DNA, as do most Westerners, but not Denisovan DNA.This genetic trace is present in Aboriginal people at the present day in much greater quantities than any other people around the world'Where the interbreeding event(s) between Denisovans and early modern humans actually took place are currently unknown.'I have argued that some members of the wider Denisovan population could have migrated to islands beyond the Wallace Line, where the main interbreeding event(s) with the ancestors of Australasians took place.'There is also now evidence from fossil teeth that modern humans were in southern China at least 80,000 years ago, and in Sumatra about 65,000 years ago.'So populations like those are much more likely than Denisovans to have been the first colonisers of Australia, an event now dated to at least 65,000 years ago.'Whoever made it would have had to navigate treacherous crossings from Asia to Australasia, even though the sea distances were closer then because ocean levels were some 360 ft (110 m) lower due to the Ice Age.And separate studies suggest that the ability of Tibetans to withstand the effects of hypoxia in low-oxygen environments is linked to a gene absent in Neanderthals but present in Denisovans.Professor Richard Roberts has called for closer scrutiny of ancient migration routes.
'We still think it's modern humans but perhaps it might have been Denisovans.'We know that Aboriginal people in Australia contain both Neanderthal DNA, as do you and I, we have Neanderthal DNA, but neither you nor I have Denisovan DNA, which is another group of people actually the home base, as it were, up in Siberia, Denisova Cave in southern Siberia in Russia,' he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier this year.'But it's miraculously in Aboriginal people at the present day in much greater quantities than any other people around the world.'How did it get into Aboriginal people?'That's still very much a moot point and we're not sure.'Did Denisovan people themselves make it across Wallace's Line, a big biogeographic boundary separating Asia from Australasia?It's a question mark still hanging there.'Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, is less convinced of the length of their journey, and whether they were the first to arrive on Australia.Speaking to Mail Online, he said: 'We have to bear in mind that the Denisovan people in Denisova Cave were probably at the northern end of a distribution that stretched down through south east Asia.'So we don't have to envisage 'Denisovans' migrating from Siberia towards Australia.'it's true that many modern native Australasians have about a four per cent input of 'Denisovan-like' DNA in their genomes.'But geneticists point out that their Denisovan-like DNA must actually be from a genetically distinct population to the one known from Siberia, one that had perhaps differentiated from the Siberian Denisovans 200,000 years earlier.